Faith

The Most Powerful Influence

What wouldn’t we give to have more influence in the world? To be given a promotion, or better yet – an opportunity to have a say in the world around us?

Most of us, of course, would jump at the opportunity. We would want to be a beacon of change. We would want to be a voice for the causes we are most passionate about. We would vow to make changes to corrupt policies or stand up for the weak/broken/voiceless. Like every single politician who walked before us.

We all know what becomes of those empty promises.

Those of us who believe would think that God himself was giving us this opportunity to further his justice on Earth; to make our world a better place.

The question is, would we?

Do we really have the solutions to all the world’s problems like we sometimes think we do? By making changes to help some people, is there not a chance that others may be harmed in the process?

Lately I’ve been studying the book of Daniel and I was struck this week by a story in Daniel 5.

In this story Daniel is older. He is no longer the strong youth that had been taken into exile. He has been faithfully serving God in the foreign land of Babylon for years and already been established to be a man of great wisdom. He advised king Nebuchadnezzar in his years of reign and earned his respect. Now he is serving under the former king’s son, King Belshazzer.

Mysterious Writing on the Wall

“King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.” (Daniel 5:1-6)

The king is terrified – and rightly so. He knows that these words are important, yet he can not read them. He must find out what they mean. Of course, none of the wise men in the kingdom can read or interpret the words on the wall. But the queen remembers Daniel and says: “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t be so pale! There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him.”

So Daniel is brought before the king.

The king gives Daniel this charge: “The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it. Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.” (Daniel 5:15-16)

A Remarkable Answer

And Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.”

I was blown away by this response. It is so unlike any of us would do today.

Daniel had absolutely no care or interest in worldly riches, recognition, rewards, or promotion. He simply lived to do God’s will and give all the glory to him.

This is astounding!

What wouldn’t most of us give to gain more influence? We’d even use it as an excuse to “help God’s kingdom” or to “be a voice in the world” – but Daniel had realized something incredible: His greatest influence came not from his position, but from being down on his knees!

What Type of Influence am I Seeking?

It occurred to me that we think we can make the most difference in the world by gaining money, or power, or a high position, but suddenly I realized that nothing could be further from the truth!

Our greatest weapon is prayer!

This is what the Bible teaches. It’s why Jesus was never interested in becoming crowned king on Earth; it’s why he didn’t seek human promotion or positions. I believe this is also why us Christians sometime become so frustrated in our faith journey. We are following a completely different set of rules – we are apart of a different kind of kingdom – yet we continue to view opportunities and situations with our worldly way of thinking!

Oh Father, teach us how to pray. Help us see our world and your sovereignty with Daniel’s kind of faith. May we not just claim to believe, but may we actually trust what your word teaches us about influence and the power of prayer through our actions. Open our eyes to these truths.

Authenticity · COVID-19 · Faith · Health

Taking Small Steps Forward

Often I’m amazed at how many parallels there are in our natural world and our spiritual one.

For the past two weeks I’ve been trying to get my body into a healthier state, and it’s caused me to realize that not only have I been neglecting my physical body, but my spiritual one as well. It’s so easy to fall into a state of being physically unfit: Skip a workout here, eat a bit more junk there. It takes far more effort and intentionality to stay healthy.

It was almost exactly one year ago when I first heard the term “Covid-19″… that was just before it hit my world. At first, it was the distant “coronavirus” that seemed like nothing more than another repeat of the “SARS” or “H1N1″scare. I never expected it to effect me. I never thought that it would reach my country. And never in my wildest dreams would I have expected it to be here to stay.

None of us did.

As I look back over the past year, I realize that it took over so much of my emotional, mental and physical capacity and head space. I noticed my motivation to keep myself healthy – physically and spiritually – completely tanked as I became fixated on all the changes around me. Eventually, expecting change and disappointment became normal. Being adaptable was essential – and it’s where I put most of my energy into: Returning to homeschooling five kids overnight, cancelling all future plans, learning to meet with and lead my small group over Zoom.

Adaptable we’ve become, but it seems like all I’ve been doing for the past year. I find myself tired; burnt out, even. I’ve been physically trying to compensate for this fatigue by filling much of my extra time with unproductive activities, stuff that requires little to no effort. Logically this doesn’t make sense, of course, because if I’m going to run a marathon and do well, I have to take care of myself.

But here I find myself in that place where I’ve been running so hard for so long that I am in survival mode. In my few moments of free head space, I’m filling my mind and body with so much junk that I just find myself too full to eat a decent meal.

Something has to go.

I am hitting a wall and I just can’t run off of this cheap fuel anymore. I need the good stuff. I need the protein, the veggies; the word of God, prayer and fellowship with believers. I can’t keep grabbing for the granola bar to tie me over anymore, my body won’t let me.

So, I take small steps:

First Step: Two weeks ago I decided to give up processed sugar/junk food for 40 days during the Lent season.

Second step: Making wiser choses in what I eat… choosing a salad instead of a pizza. Grabbing fruit instead of chips.

Third step: Picking up my Bible instead of my phone when I wake up. Praying instead of complaining or worrying.

Fourth Step: This past week I decided to get back into running; just three days a week for half an hour.

Small steps I can handle, one choice at a time.

And today, I got pushed to take another small, but important step for accountability on how I’m spending my time: Being present with my family, instead of hiding away in my room to be alone. I need to learn how to be in community again, instead of pushing people away.

Today was a day I’ve been waiting for for a long time. It was the first time I’ve been to church since November 1st and even in my current exhausted state, I was ecstatic! Online “church” isn’t church to me. It’s watching a sermon.

Church is the people. My spiritual family. My second home.

Today marks the beginning of another step towards health: Meeting with other believers to worship our incredible God. It’s just one more step of healing from the isolation of this year… Fellowship. We need each other. If anything has shown us that, it has had to be this past year. As my community begins to heal and take small steps to open up, I want to heal personally and open up as well.

One small step at a time.

Have you been taking any steps lately?